St. Bartholomew believed in Jesus immediately upon meeting him. As one of the Twelve Apostles, he’s mentioned always with Philip. Later tradition holds that he traveled with St. Jude to Armenia where they founded the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Episcopal Church celebrates St. Bartholomew’s feast day next Wednesday, August 24.
Most biblical scholars believe that because Bartholomew means Son of Tolmai, he’s the same person called Nathanael in the first chapter of John’s Gospel:
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
I have to stop here because Nathanael’s question is so familiar. I’ve said it to myself many times over the years of raising my children in the Church.
The memory that stands out the most does so because it’s a scenario that played out repeatedly:
We are at a Christmas pageant rehearsal, and I’m standing in a crowded classroom, overheating, holding coats, and helping my angel and shepherd try on their costumes. Maybe I’m even smiling, but I’m thinking, I’ve got so much to do at home! Can any good come out of a Christmas pageant?
If the tears of joy I shed at every Christmas pageant I’ve ever witnessed are any indication, the answer is, of course, yes.
Sometimes though, it’s easy to forget that which hasn’t happened yet. And so we ask, can any good come out of Baptism, Sunday school, worship, Vacation Bible School, junior choir, acolyting, youth groups, youth conferences, community service, Confirmation, mission trips, or lay ministry?
It seems to be such a simple answer, except when we’re rushing kids out the door and into the car so we can get them there on time. That’s when we should think about what happened after Nathanael followed Philip to come see:
“When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”
Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?”
Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”
St. (Nathanael) Bartholomew reminds us that when we support our children’s participation in church youth programs, their unique hearts will be recognized, welcomed, and transformed by their connection to the light in the center of it all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To honor St. Bartholomew on his feast day, let’s see if anything good can come out of the kitchen when we make a biblical-era Middle Eastern (culturally including parts of Armenia) version of:
1 cup dried chickpeas (or two 15-ounce cans)
½ cup tahini (sesame paste)
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
About 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
About 2 teaspoons salt (or ½ teaspoon if using canned chickpeas), or to taste
(Steps 1 through 3 are for cooking dried chickpeas; skip to the second part of step 4 if using canned.)
1. Rinse chickpeas in a strainer. Place in large pot with 8 cups of water. Let soak at room temperature for about 12 hours.
2. Drain chickpeas and rinse. Place back in pot and add 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chickpeas are soft, about 1 hour.
3. Set aside one cup of the cooking water. Drain chickpeas and rinse under cold water.
4. Place chickpeas and cup of cooking water into food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (Or mush them up with a mortar and pestle, because authenticity.) If using canned chickpeas, pour into food processor or blender with about half the liquid from each can.
5. Add tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Puree until creamy.
6. Pour into bowl and serve with Apostle’s Bread and vegetables.
Optional add-ins: ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon paprika, 2 tablespoons chopped olives
Alternatively, because the apostles ate much of the same foods and because saintly feast dishes can be mixed and matched depending on what’s in season or what your family prefers, you could celebrate St. Bartholomew’s feast day with Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini.
How might you celebrate St. Bartholomew?